Does the number you see on the scale surprise you at times?
There are many factors that affect your number. Could it be a high salt intake? A high carbohydrate intake? Dehydration? Water retention? The fact is, it can be many things, but when is it ever truly fat gain or loss? Although we fixate on the actual number on the scale, we really need to be more concerned with whether or not it’s true, permanent fat loss or gain and not just temporary water retention or Carb bloat.
If you consume too much salt, you body will be signaled to retain water, which will in turn absorb the excess salt and flush it out. Consistent high sodium intake though, slows or even discontinues this natural process causing you to continue to retain water. Marathon runners or heavy exercisers can lose large amounts of weight from fluid losses from sweating, but as soon as they replenish their fluids, their weight returns to normal. When you wake in the morning after not eating or drinking all night, you body is dehydrated, causing you to weigh less in the morning.
Carbohydrates are another biggie. Followers of low-carb diets experience that initial large weight loss the first week of starting the diet. Your body stores excess carbohydrates as glycogen. For every 1 pound of glycogen you store, you store 2-3 pounds of water! When you go on a low carb diet, your body releases all that glycogen to provide you with the needed sugar but then it also releases the extra water as well. You can lose 10 pounds in 1 week from just water! This is also why, when you go off the diet and start eating carbs again, you re-store the glycogen and all the water too. And then you’ll hear people say: “I can’t eat carbs. All I had was a bagel and I gained 5 pounds!”
If your goal is to lose body fat, the bottom line is for you to be concerned with actual fat loss, not water.
- A body fat analyzer machine can best determine your fat, muscle and water composition.
- Reduce your sodium intake by decreasing your intake of processed, pre-packaged, canned, and convenience foods, as well as Fast-foods and snacks.
- Use an array of spices instead of table salt.
- Drink plenty of fluids, and eat 5-9 water-containing fruits and veggies a day.
- Reduce your intake of ‘bad’ carbs, such as sodas, desserts, salty snacks, breads, cakes, candy, cookies, etc.
- Avoid fat-free products: extra sugar is added to improve the taste
- Once you’ve determined that your weight loss is merely water, and only temporary, focus more on steady weekly weight loss that is truly from fat.
- Keep a food diary and see if you’re truly eating the correct amount of calories.
- Make sure you’re exercising enough and not eating extra due to the fast that you can because “you just burned off all those calories in the gym.”
- Normal, healthy weight loss is steady, 1-2 pounds of fat per week, but it takes 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound, therefore you need to eat 500 calories less per day, or exercise off 500 extra calories a day to lose a mere 1 pound a week.
It takes a lot of dedication, but the rewards are priceless in the end.
So, what have you experienced with weight gain/loss?
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